We talk about how good Geno Atkins is all the time on this site. We also talk about how this position does not receive the recognition it deserves, so I will save that.
Pro Football Focus rates Atkins as the highest rated defensive lineman with a grade of 80.0. Just for reference, they have Gerald McCoy 2nd at 31.2. Currently Atkins is in the final year of a rookie contract that pays $3.2 million. He is obviously a target for an extension by the Bengals and I am sure they have done the preliminary work to come up with some options.
The website Spotrac does forecasting for professional athletes contracts and has set its focus on Atkins. Take a look at the site; the level of information they use to compute their guesstimate is impressive. Some highlights from their findings are:
Our results here show that Atkins is far and away in a class of his own statistically. He gets to the quarterback, stops the run, avoids penalties, and can do all this in solo-fashion as well.
Atkins has shown the three major keys to earning himself a highly guaranteed contract: Production, Improvement, and Durability. Atkins is a diamond in the rough for the Bengals, and has stayed under the radar until Mid-2012 when his on-field performance really got some national presence. He's entering a contract year in 2013, and will require more than the going rate.
Spotrac computes the numbers as six years $62,744,621 with $28.6 guaranteed. That would give Geno a per year earning of just over 10 million. This is serious cash and would put him at the top for defensive lineman on a secondary contract.